Investigating the role of IQGAP1 in intracellular life of Burkholderia pseudomallei
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Burkholderia pseudomallei is a Gram-negative intracellular bacterium that causes melioidosis, a serious disease of humans and animals in tropical countries. This pathogen can subvert the host cell actin machinery by a process known as actibased motility, for promoting its movement both within and between cells. The bacterial factor required for this process is known as BimA (Burkholderia intracellular motility A). Intracytoplasmic bacterial pathogens use distinct mechanisms for actin-based motility, hijacking host cytoskeletal proteins for their benefit. However, the molecular mechanism by which BimA subverts the cellular actin machinery is ill-defined. From an affinity approach coupled with mass spectrometry to identify cellular proteins recruited to BimA-expressing bacteria under conditions that promote actin polymerisation, a group of cellular proteins that are recruited to the B. pseudomallei surface in a BimA-dependent manner was identified. A subset of these proteins was independently validated with specific antisera including IQ motif containing GTPase activating protein 1 (IQGAP1). IQGAP1 is a ubiquitous scaffold protein that integrates several key cellular signalling pathways including those involved in actin dynamics. Previous studies demonstrated IQGAP1 was targeted by pathogens to regulate the actin cytoskeleton, for example promoting Salmonella invasion into epithelial cells or supporting cell attachment and pedestal formation of Enteropathogenic Escherichia coli. The aim of this study is to explore the roles of IQGAP1 in the intracellular life of B. pseudomallei. This present study revealed that IQGAP1 was recruited to B. pseudomallei actin tails in infected HeLa cells. This protein has not previously been associated with actin-based motility of other intracellular pathogens. To examine the effect on actibased motility of B. pseudomallei, siRNA was utilised to knockdown IQGAP1 in HeLa cells. After optimisation of siRNA transfection, IQGAP1 expression in HeLa cells was suppressed by approximately 70% as assessed by IQGAP1 immunoblotting. The siIQGAP1 knockdown cells were infected with B. pseudomallei. The bacteria could still form actin tails in the knockdown cells, however, the data showed a statistically significant increase in overall tail length with a concomitant decrease in actin density, compared with the tails formed by B. pseudomallei in control cells. Actin-based motility is essential in the life cycle of several cytoplasmic bacterial pathogens, particularly in cell-to- cell spread. After entry into the host cell cytosol, B. pseudomallei polymerises actin in a BimA-dependent manner and propels itself within and between cells. This is accompanied by cell fusion which generates multi-nucleated giant cells (MNGCs), a process mediated by a Type 6 Secretion System that is co-regulated with BimA. To gain an understanding of the impact of IQGAP1 on the intracellular life of B. pseudomallei, IQGAP1 was successfully knocked-out from HeLa cells using CRISPR-Cas9 technique. Interestingly, Burkholderia invasion was not affected in HeLa cells lacking IQGAP1. However, the bacteria showed a defect in intracellular survival in IQGAP1 knockout cells that was revealed after 6 hours post-infection. Moreover, there was no difference in the proportion of bacteria associated with actin in the control and knockout cells at 16 hours post-infection, although the bacteria formed longer actin tails in control cells with similar actin density. Consequently, the number of MNGCs decreased dramatically in the cells lacking IQGAP1, which was indicated by the absence of plaque formation. Another element of this study was to determine whether BimA and IQGAP1 are direct interacting partners. Using either an in vitro pulldown assay or in vivo yeast two-hybrid system, a direct interaction between these proteins could not be detected. It is, therefore, likely that IQGAP1 is recruited to B. pseudomallei actin tails through its intrinsic ability to interact with F-actin. Despite the lack of a direct interaction between these two proteins, an N-terminal IQGAP1 fragment significantly augmented BimA-mediated actin polymerisation in vitro. Taken together, this study provides the first evidence of the presence of IQGAP1 in B. pseudomallei actin tails and presents the importance of IQGAP1 in actin-based motility and intracellular life of this bacterium. Understanding the mechanism of B. pseudomallei actin-based motility is useful to gain insights into host cell actin dynamics and its role in pathogenesis. Targeting host cellular proteins that are required for the intracellular life of pathogens are a topical area of research, with the potential to be useful alternatives to classic antibiotic therapy. Indeed, IQGAP1 could be a potential novel therapeutic target to develop drugs for treating B. pseudomallei infection.